Born in Trieste, an Italian city on the border with Slovenia, Sara Villalta got a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design at the Polytechnic of Milan before pursuing a master’s degree in Communication Design at the Glasgow School of Art.
During this study course, Sara undertook projects in the fields of photography, illustration and graphics. This choice was dictated by the desire to discover and experiment with new techniques to enrich her knowledge and to have a broader vision in the field of design.
Sara is a curious, sensitive and open-minded person and she conveys these qualities in her work. In fact, her projects, often based on personal experiences, touch on different themes. Sara does not set herself any cognitive limits, she pushes herself out of her comfort zone to learn something totally new every time.
What she has mainly acquired in these two years is the ability to manage a project, from the idea to its realisation, and the courage to get involved and experiment. In the future, she would like to work in a more manual way, not involving only digital tools. She considers it more human and essential after the detachment that the pandemic has created in social relations and everyday life.
An Unusual Traveller
An Unusual Traveller who breaks all travel restrictions by taking me to my friends around the world: I thus cling to physical contact in this only digital age.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is keeping us apart from each other. We cannot physically see each other, touch each other directly, or have certain experiences together. So I felt the need and the necessity to create a medium that would bring us closer and which would give, in these repetitive days of lockdown, a greater incentive to those who receive it.
‘Touching’ is nowadays off-limits. We cannot touch each other and as soon as we touch an object outside the house we have to immediately disinfect it fearing it might infect us. The little book at this point could sound like a provocation because it will be touched by more people. However, I believe that it is essential to re-establish human contact, even though remotely. Because I maintain that only the touch lets you experience certain sensations that technology cannot.
To break the monotony of these days, I decided to create a challenging book. That is a book in which people not only share an activity that makes them particularly happy on these lockdown days but also challenge the following people to have the same experience and leave a personal comment.
What do you find happiness in? This is the question I intend to ask people. And even in its simplicity, it conceals disarming importance. In fact, during this period each of us had to change our habits, had to reorganise our lives and had to find new little daily joys. But what are these joys? Why do not we share them with other people in this little booklet? In this way, we can empathise
with others, feel less lonely, have fresh motivation and create something Together. Because it is important to remember that We Are Not Alone. We are all suffering this situation and we will all get out of it soon.
And so, without pretence, as if we were drinking coffee with friends, we let ourselves go with thoughts, memories, small gestures that nevertheless manage to convey the warmth of a hug. Everyone has something to say in an open but easily dispatchable space: a cooking recipe, a fragment of life, a dried leaf, the wrapper of a chocolate, colours, scents, thoughts.
A couple of days ago I was the first one to send the little book, after having messed it up a bit with my pen and my fantasy. I had drawn up a list to define its journey through Europe: from Glasgow to Bari, from Verona to Brussels, from Delft to London. And in these weeks, as it has travelled, it has filled up in an original, heartfelt way. I cannot wait for the little book to come back to me to read the words and thoughts of my friends.
I made an experimental work that collects cyanotypes of different nature. In particular, I experimented using all kinds of liquids: of different density, origin and provenance, with the aim of creating new, different and unexpected forms.
I started making some cyanotypes using fruits and vegetables which I found in my house’s garden in Italy. On the paper, I crushed cherry tomatoes, grape, clementine, spread honey, poured water, and then I exposed the paper sheets to the sun for few minutes. I had fun doing it. Watching abstract shapes being created on the paper is what fascinated me most, which is why I approached this experimental work with curiosity.
My personal goal was to create unexpected shapes by playing with liquids and elements belonging to the natural world. I also wanted to confuse the observer about the origin and typology of the elements in the works I realized. I hope to have succeeded in that.
The content of the project deals with an extremely contemporary issue that is affecting all of us at the moment: the Covid theme. I would like to deal with this topic by considering the places as the protagonists. In particular, I would like to highlight, with my photographs, how the Covid has changed the layout of places. Thus the title ‘Ghost Places’ was born. By ‘Ghost’ I mean the semi-abandoned places which used to be meeting points for people and now they are just crossing points. In fact, before people could meet each other, swim in the swimming pool, discover new artists at the museum, sing at concerts, relax in a hotel or simply drink a beer in a pub. But now these places have lost their role and become big empty boxes. And it is heartbreaking to see how, in a short time, the city has changed radically. For this reason, my pursuit is to give voice to the city itself through my book. Each chapter tells the story of a different place in Glasgow through photographs and short accounts of people.
My intention is to arouse nostalgic feelings in people who look at my photographs. In that, they will remember the activities they used to do in those places and now no longer. To achieve my goal, I initially thought of making long-exposure photographs. I liked the idea of representing places as static identities and people as dynamic but fleeting ghost- identities. But then I encountered several practical difficulties in taking such photographs and, at the same time, I started to think of different solutions definitively abandoning the idea of taking long exposure photos.
My idea came from a non-positive love experience. I was in a relationship with a person who I thought I loved and who I thought loved me but it turned out not to be so. Last September I realised many of the realities that I was distorting during our relationship because I have got my love blinders on. When I was able to see the situation from an external and more objective point of view, I realised that he had enveloped me in a cloud of lies, insecurities, deception all that time. And even though I was warned by friends and family that this boy was not good for me, I did not want to listen. I was sure of my choice. A choice, fortunately, destined to change.
And that is why I decided to do this project. I would like the persons, to whom the same situation has happened or is happening, to identify with my character. I would like to warn them and to make them think that maybe the person next to them is not the love of their life, but just a toxic cloud from which it is better to get away. I do not intend to impose my project, I would simply like it to serve as a warning and to make people think. Moreover, I would like the book to inform those, who have been lucky enough not to experience toxic relationships, that those situations are real. Mental abuse is as important as the physical one, indeed, there are no abuses more or less serious than others.